Evangelical Third Place Cafés that Facilitate Gospel Conversations

  • Keith Foster

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    For many years, cafés have been renowned for being places of community connectivity and conversation. This research was focussed on two West Midland cafés run by evangelical Christians whose joint objectives were to enhance their local sense of community, whilst also seeking opportunities to share their Christian faith. I wanted to understand to what extent the cafés achieved these objectives, yet additionally, I wanted to understand what sort of gathered community each café created, as the hosts and patrons interacted, particularly around matters of faith. Fieldwork was conducted over a period of fifteen months between September 2018 and February 2020, using observations during my frequent visits to the cafés, and semi-structured interviews with the café managers, plus a selection of the café hosts and patrons. This research found that both evangelical cafés were important hubs of social capital that also created a platform for faith-sharing with a broad range of people by meeting a need for personal and community connectivity. Additionally, the cafés provided an environment where psychological barriers between the evangelical hosts and local patrons, be they imagined or real, were diluted as the cafés become authentic third place communities. The fieldwork also revealed that the physical layout of the cafés and faith-based literature within them, encouraged faith-based discussions and enquiry, with the cafés becoming places of faith journey and exploration. The fieldwork, specifically in one of the cafés, revealed it to be a gathered faith community, a new locus of spirituality, which was characterised by prayer, Biblebased discussion, social connection and conversations centred around Jesus. Theologically, the research findings and insights provide an alternative approach to community mission, compared to the more traditional approaches adopted by some within the evangelical tradition, where “proclamation” over “dialogue”, and “crisis conversion” over faith journey is preferred.
    Date of Award7 Mar 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorJohn R. L. Moxon (Director of Studies) & Andrew Rogers (Co-Supervisor)


    • Evangelical
    • Conversionism
    • Third Place
    • Café Ethnography
    • Social Capital

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